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Sabhal Mòr Ostaig and Tobar an Dualchais welcome new postgraduate researchers


Sabhal Mòr Ostaig has welcomed two new postgraduate researchers in Gaelic language and culture.

Liam Alasdair Crouse has been appointed to take up Sabhal Mòr Ostaig and Tobar an Dualchais’ collaborative PhD project, funded by the Scottish Graduate School for Arts and Humanities. The project will bring new ethnographical approaches and cutting-edge scholarship to bear upon the rich Gaelic oral heritage made available online by Tobar an Dualchais, Scotland’s digitised folklore and oral history resource.

Based in Uist, Liam has an academic background in Celtic Studies, Archaeology and Gaelic-language publishing. He has worked for several years with Ceòlas Uibhist helping to preserve, promote and research Uist’s Gaelic heritage, and in his spare time is a keen sailor, a piper and a poet.

Liam commented: “I was elated to be offered the studentship to research Uist’s Gaelic folklore at such a high level with this PhD project. Since moving to the islands in 2015, I am beginning to grasp the sheer breadth, depth and import of this community’s cultural endowment. It is such a great opportunity to be able to explore these subjects in partnership with two organisations which are to the fore in this field.”

Sabhal Mòr Ostaig’s Dr Dòmhnall Uilleam Stiùbhart said of Liam’s appointment: “We are delighted to welcome Liam to the Sabhal Mòr Ostaig and Tobar an Dualchais teams and look forward to supporting him with his PhD over the next few years.  In researching the wide variety of songs, stories, and history preserved in Tobar an Dualchais, as well as 170 years of folklore recordings, Liam will bring the islands’ precious heritage to the attention of scholars worldwide, as well as working with local communities themselves regarding the best ways to pass on this heritage alive and well to the younger generation.”

Tobar an Dualchais Project Director Flòraidh Forrest also commented: “We are really pleased with Liam’s appointment and look forward to working in collaboration with both him and Sabhal Mòr Ostaig. The doctoral research Liam is undertaking will give deeper understanding and meaning to the massive collection of recordings, fieldwork and, significantly, the individual tradition-bearers and their families from Uist. Liam will work closely with these communities and will contribute to Tobar an Dualchais’s programme of outreach and community engagement, through public talks; blogs; articles in local publications; and media appearances.

Isabelle Flower will be the first student to undertake Sabhal Mòr Ostaig’s new Masters by Research degree, and will be working on a project exploring confidence among Gaelic speakers. Isabelle has a first-class degree in Gaelic and French from the University of Glasgow, and is a former student of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, where she was awarded Student of the Year in 2018.

She says: “As a previous student at Sabhal Mòr, I’m delighted to return this year to begin a Masters degree, with a research project that will study Gaelic speakers’ confidence and attitudes towards language. Scotland’s National Centre for Gaelic Language and Culture is the perfect place for this kind of research, providing opportunities and experience unavailable in other universities.”

Sabhal Mòr Ostaig’s Dr Tim Armstrong, who will be working with Isabelle as she develops her project, said: ‘Izzy is a former graduate of the highest academic calibre, and we are delighted that she is returning to do research with us. Her project will be valuable both theoretically and practically, especially as we look for ways to encourage both new speakers and native speakers to use Gaelic in their daily lives.’

Abigail Burnyeat, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig’s Head of Research, welcomed the arrival of the two research students, saying, “We are delighted to have such fine young scholars joining us, and that Liam and Isabelle will take the next steps in their academic careers here at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig. The projects they will be working on will make an important contribution to our research on Gaelic language and culture, and our community of researchers looks forward very much to working with them over the course of their degrees”.

Find out more about postgraduate opportunities with Sabhal Mòr Ostaig here.

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